Travelling

Five essentials for the summer

I’ve visited Bulgaria many times, but never had the chance to really enjoy the summer here. My first two visits were during the winter and my 3rd visit was during the autumn. Last year, I came here for the 4th time during the summer but I spent all my 3 weeks preparing for my wedding. This is my 5th visit. For the past 2 months, I’ve experienced the summer more than I have ever wanted. In this post, I’m going to share with you how I feel about summer and 5 essentials you should have with you if you want to visit a country with 4 seasons during summer.

Note: The author is neither a geography expert nor a climate expert. This post is solely based on the author’s experience in Varna (Bulgaria), Rome (Italy) and Milan (Italy) in July 2014. This does not apply to all Bulgaria, all Italy or all countries with 4 seasons. This post is solely for sharing and/or entertainment purposes only. 

I am from Malaysia, a country with equatorial climate. It has either sunny or rainy days. When I told my friends that I’m visiting Bulgaria during summer, they quickly assumed that the weather conditions of “a hot day in Bulgaria” and “a hot day in Malaysia” are the same. If you’ve experienced similar conditions, you’ll definitely know that they’re not the same.

Note: The following information is solely based the author’s experience on a sunny day (without rain) in JB, Malaysia and a sunny day (without rain/snow) in Varna, Bulgaria. 

A sunny day in JB is usually hot and humid. The difference in temperature between day and night is usually small. Except when I’m in an air-conditioned room, I get sweaty very easily even I’m in a sheltered or shaded area (e.g. at home or in open-air cafes). On a daily basis, I use BB cream with SPF50 on my face, but I don’t use any sunblock on my body (unless I go to the beach, but that’s another story). Without sun block, I think walking under the sun is bearable. I try not to be exposed for too long because I’ll get tanned (or “burnt”) and freckles will start appearing. I would say that walking under the hot sun is bearable (but not advisable) without wearing a hat or sunglasses. The glare of the sun is also bearable if you don’t look at the sky directly, but of course you are most likely to be walking with your eyes half-closed (trying to protect them from the sun). Well, this is based on my personal opinion but I may be biased since I’ve lived in Malaysia most of my life! 😀

A sunny day in Varna is usually hot and dry. In the middle of the summer, the difference in temperature between day and night is small too. The temperature at this time is around 30°C (or hotter). However, during the start and the end of summer, the temperature differs quite significantly. The temperature during the day is usually around 27°C but during the night, it can go as low as 16°C. I personally feel weird because I’ve never slept in 16°C back in Malaysia at night. Even if I were to switch the air-conditioner to the lowest, it was 18° but then I would never do that. I usually kept it at 26°C. Here in Varna, I don’t get sweaty easily. Unless I exposed myself to the sun for hours, I usually don’t get sweaty after a 15-20 minutes walk under the sun. It is very weird for me that my skin burns when I’m directly exposed to the sun but once I step under some shades (e.g. trees), it actually becomes cooling. Weird! In JB, the only difference when you are under the sun or under a tree is that you don’t get burnt. Otherwise, the hot “feeling” remains quite the same. I cannot tell you why but you just need to experience the magic of tree shades during summer. Although I don’t get sweaty, that doesn’t mean I don’t get burnt! I get burnt way too fast as compared as I was in JB. Therefore, I usually apply 2 layers of BB Cream with SPF50 on my face, and a layer of sunblock with SPF50 on my body when I walk to the mall. Everyone wants to get tanned here and I’m taking measures to prevent myself from being “burnt”. Without hat or sunglasses, my eyes are almost (not half) closed. The glare from the sun can be so harsh that I can’t see properly.

If you love being tanned, then summer is your best friend. Well, if you don’t like being tanned but still love the summer, I recommend these 5 essential things you must have with you (especially if you plan to visit a country that has summer days like Bulgaria)! But  “hotness” isn’t just what I’m talking about here. Taking care of the “dryness” during summer is equally important!

Note: I like to use the word “burnt” instead of “tanned” but what I really mean is that “the skin becomes darker”.

1. Sunblock & sunscreen

  • This is a serious must! Even if you love tanning yourself, there’s no harm applying a layer or two if you know you will be exposed to the sun for a significant amount of time. I think my explanations are pretty much in the previous paragraphs! 😀

2. All your moisturizing agents!

  • Face moisturizers: If you have oily combination skin like me, please don’t think that being in a dry climate place is going to make you a beautiful princess. Your pimples will still pop up if you don’t use proper skincare. The good news are that you can put lesser layers of moisturizers on your face and that your face will not get oily so easily/fast. The bad news is that “the very moisturizing” formula you used back home is probably not suitable in this climate. I’m not sure about other skin types, you may want search for more information on the Internet.
  • Body lotion: Also a must, preferably after shower. WHY? I can’t imagine myself applying lotion on my body when I already have layers of sunblock. Over time, your skin gets drier without you noticing it. I’m not even staying/sleeping in an air-conditioned room here in Varna and I can sometimes feel my skin is dry and tight, what’s more if you are travelling and are sleeping in a hotel with air-conditioner? Body lotion is a must!
  • Hand cream: The skin around nails sometimes becomes dry and eventually it cracks. Use hand cream whenever you can. It’s not necessary but it’s good to keep one near you.
  • Moisturizing facial masks: If you have invested in good moisturising skincare products, facial masks are not really necessary. But there’s no harm wanting to look beautiful, so you can use some sheet masks. I personally gel mask.

3. Hat

  • This is pretty obvious. You don’t want to have a burnt forehead, right? It’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” (without the sunglasses) under a sunny day. Seriously, without a hat is not so bad. You’ll just have to live with a “burnt” forehead for a few months. But without sunglasses…

4. Sunglasses

  • Well, it’s a good way to keep your eyes “opened” more (with or without the hat). It helps to shield the glaring sun.  But please don’t look at the sun directly, thinking that you are 100% protected. You’ll most probably be blinded. I’m personally not a “sunglasses-kind-of person”. I prefer to see things in their natural form/colour. But yeah, … without sunglasses, it’s so difficult to see anything because of the glaring sun. Everything seems to be reflective of the sun light. At this point I’m wondering, why does the sun glares more in Varna than in JB? Does it? Or does it not? Maybe I’m just biased. Hahaha…never mind.

5. Insect / Mosquito repellent

  • Seriously, I myself am surprised from this. I came from a place where mosquitoes are breeding like crazy. Yeah, I’m talking about living near to a dengue-infested lake near my previous apartment. But put aside these Aedes mosquitoes, I would say that “normal” mosquitoes are not something new back in JB. Honestly, I’ve very rarely used a mosquito repellent back home. The only time I remember using it was when I went with my parents-in-law to the Tropical Spice Garden in Pulau Pinang. I’m not sure if it is considered a mosquito repellent, it was some lemongrass spray. I didn’t feed myself that much to the mosquitoes there. Perhaps one or two bites which were inevitable. Well, I would say that in Varna, if you avoid “grassy” areas like the parks or the gardens, you are surely safe! But if you enjoy garden dining like I do, you definitely have to prepare insect/mosquito repellent! Initially, I was thinking that I was just unlucky when I garden-dined in Varna. But, I encountered the same when I garden-dined in Milan!!!!! After 2 visits to 2 different restaurants in 2 different countries, my legs are full with mosquito bite marks that I sometimes feel like crying. T_T

So, nothing about what clothes you should wear blablabla. You wear what you wanna wear during the summer. Woohoo!! You don’t need anyone to tell you that. In case you are interested, I usually wear my favourite 3S – shirt, shorts and slippers when I’m going out. Sometimes, with short dresses too. However, if I know I’ll be exposed to the sun for more than 30 minutes, I usually wear long dresses or thin long sleeve shirts with long pants (plus my hat – still not liking the sunglasses). So it really depends whether you wanna get “burnt” or not. If you’ve decided to get “burnt” all over, the best solution is to go to the beach in your tiniest strings! I promise! 😀

Finally, do I like summer? Hmmm….95% yes! Where does the remaining 5% go?! Well, I had “some problems” with summer when I had to pack for my Milan/Rome trip. After all, they are the major fashion cities and I did not want to be “underdress”. I had difficulty choosing “the perfect colour combination” so I ended up with the “safest combination” of black and white. -_-” During that packing session, I was secretly wishing that it was winter so I could just wrap myself in winter coat! Enough said! Hmmm…

Have you experienced summer in another country? Are there any differences between a sunny day in a foreign country and a sunny day in your home country? Share your thoughts with me. You can leave your comments below. Don’t worry, your email address will be invisible to others. 🙂

Alternatively, if you have a story about your experience about summer which you would like to share, find out how by clicking here.

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A little “welcome back” note

I actually wrote this “welcome note” (3rd paragraph onwards in black) 2 weeks ago but decided not to publish it because I wasn’t sure if I’ll be diligent enough to keep my blog active or if I’ll have enough readership as motivation to keep my blog going. Apparently, I have been diligent enough to write for the past 2 weeks, except for Saturdays and Sundays which I declared as non-writing days for myself. In addition, I’ve also been getting so much love from my friends who have told me that they enjoy reading my blog. They even gave me suggestions on things they’d love to read on my blog! So much love! ❤ ❤ ❤  Thank you! 

Because of this blog, I’ve reconnected with many of my friends. I’ve also found out that many of my friends have really great stories that they would like to share. If you are one of these friends, click here to find out how you can be a guest writer on my blog. 

So, back to my little welcome back note.

Welcome back to my blog! After more than 2 months of hiatus, I hope I’m ready to write again. Sorry if you’ve been missing my nonsensical stories. It’s not because I’ve been lazy. It’s because I’ve been tremendously busy. Well, perhaps after that “tremendously busy” period, I did get a little lazy. But anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that, I’m back and the fact that you’re reading this means that you do care about me. Thank you so much for your <3.

In case you’re wondering about my whereabouts and what I’ve been up to, allow me to update you. As most of you probably know, I am currently back in Bulgaria with my husband. Before we came to Bulgaria, we also had a lot of things to settle, mostly work-related things like going to the government administration offices and other things like the terminating the Internet and satellite TV services etc.  Moving out from our rented place was really a nightmare. Arranging who to take care of which stuff was also a big headache. It wasn’t easy but I was glad that we managed to settle almost everything before we left.

Back in Bulgaria, my husband’s working hard as usual while I’m just having fun, doing nothing at home. I’ll just take it as a holiday reward for myself for being busy and hardworking before I came here. Well, I do have proofs. Remember my Happy Spring Cleaning Part 1 and Part 2 posts? 😛

In fact, we’re relocating to Canada soon. When will that be? I’m not sure. It depends how fast the applications get approved. How long will we be there? Hopefully for long, because it’s really not fun to “move in and out” a place, especially when you’re settled and used to the environment.

So, that’s pretty much all about me (or us). And I’ve got some really great stories on my writing list. Stay tuned!

Love,
Jenny Zhekova

P/s: If there’s any specific topic you would like to hear from me, let me know! 🙂

Differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia

1. “What do you miss the most about/in Malaysia?”
2. “What do you like about Bulgaria?”
3. “What do you think about Bulgaria?”
4. “What are the differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia?”

I’ve answered the first 3 questions in my previous posts. Click on the links above if you haven’t read them. In this post, I’m going to share about a few differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia.

There are 3 significant differences between these 2 countries: the climate, the languages, and the food. There are definitely more than these but I’m going to share just these 3 points in this post.

1. Climate

  • The climate in Malaysia is equatorial. In short, it has either sunny or rainy days. The humidity level is quite high. During sunny days, it can be hot and stuffy that you can hardly breathe. During heavy rainfalls, the thunder and lightning can strike so hard that you feel like they’re just next to you.
  • The climate in Bulgaria is continental. There are several regions in Bulgaria that have the Mediterranean climate. In short, it has 4 seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring and Autumn can be chilly at times but I think the weather during these 2 seasons are the best (or I should say, more “humane”). Winter can be drastic and temperatures can drop down to -20° (or less). Summer can be so hot that you feel your skin burns under the sun.
  • Side notes: 1. No weather is perfect (haha!). 2. I’m not a climate expert. You can search for more information on the Internet if you are interested to know more.

2. Language

  • In Malaysia, we mostly use Bahasa Malaysia (BM) for government-related matters and both BM and English for official matters. However, Malaysians use different languages/dialects at different times, in different contexts and to different people. We usually speak “properly” when we are at school or at work or when we are talking to the elders, but most of the time, we prefer to use Manglish among friends to show solidarity.
  • In Bulgaria, the Bulgarian language is the main language. English is not necessarily a second language for Bulgarians and it is not widely used here. German, French and Russian languages are among the common choices for Bulgarians as a second language.

3. Food

  • I have problems describing this part. I’m not sure if they are called the “Malaysian cuisine” but we usually call it the “typical Malaysian food”. If you ask me what kind of Malaysian food I like, I’ll tell you that I like char kway teow (literal translation: stir-fried ricecake strips, from Chinese cuisine), nasi lemak  (literal translation: rice fat?? – fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, from Malay cuisine) and roti canai (some kind of flat bread, from Indian cuisine). It’s really complicated. You should really search for more information on the Internet.
  • Pizza and pasta are common in Bulgaria, but most people stick with the typical Bulgarian cuisine. When you mention “Bulgarian food” (or beverage), you immediately think of musakakebache, sarmi, banitsa, tarator, gyuvech, ayran, boza… 
  • A side note: I know better “to eat”, and not “to explain”. Haha! 😀

In addition to these, I’m also going to share about other differences in lifestyle I’ve experienced in my daily routine.

4. Nodding vs. Shaking your head 

  • In Malaysia, nodding generally means “yes” and shaking your head generally means “no”.
  • In Bulgaria, it is the complete opposite.
  • I’ve mentioned this in one of my previous posts, click here to read about it.

5. Rice vs. Bread

  • In Malaysia, rice is essential in almost every meal.  Bread is mostly eaten during breakfast or as a snack.
  • In Bulgaria, bread is essential in every meal. Even if your meal consists of rice, you still eat it with bread. Rice is like a side dish.

6. Fork vs. spoon

  • In Malaysia, except in the case of fine dining where more than one utensil is used, we generally use spoon when eating. I use both fork and spoon but most my family members use only spoon when eating. Some Malaysians prefer not using any utensils at all.
  • In Bulgaria, again with the exception of fine dining or when you are drinking soup, usually only the fork is used. Yes, I eat rice with fork here! 😀

7. Alcohol vs. Non-alcohol

  • In Malaysia, alcoholic drinks are only allowed for non-Muslims. People usually consume alcoholic drinks (beer, wine or liquor) during night time or during special occasions.
  • In Bulgaria, people drink alcoholic drinks all the time, at any time of the day. In the restaurant menus, alcoholic drinks can take up more than 5 pages. Non-alcoholic drinks usually take up only about half a page. Alcoholic drinks are considerably cheap here. And many people own a vineyard and they brew their own wine. Every year, my father-in-law brewed his own wine, on average 200 litres per year.

8. (On a sunny day) Shopping malls vs. Beaches 

  • In Malaysia (except on long weekends or during school holidays), on weekends when you have nothing to do, most people go to the mall. After all, the malls are air-conditioned and you can find everything there. And you don’t have to suffer under the hot sun!
  • In Bulgaria, everyone goes to the beach. If you don’t go (or haven’t gone) to the beach, they think you’re weird. (Yeah, I’m weird). I know people who can go to the beach everyday for a month. Apparently, people here like to “suffer under hot sun” (a.k.a to get tanned)!

It’s so interesting to see the differences in the lifestyle of different people in different countries. I think the most interesting difference for me is eating rice with a fork. Which do you think is the most interesting?

What I like about living in Bulgaria

In my previous post, I mentioned that there are several questions I was frequently asked in Bulgaria.

1. “What do you miss the most about/in Malaysia?”
2. “What do you like about Bulgaria?”
3. “What do you think about Bulgaria?”
4. “What are the differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia?”

In this post, I’ll answer the second and the third questions.

Note:
The things I’ll share in this post may be similar to what other people have experienced in other European countries or countries that have similar characteristics. This post is mainly about my experience living in Bulgaria.
 I am making a comparison based the cities where I lived and am currently living: Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia and Varna, Bulgaria. This doesn’t apply to all Malaysia or all Bulgaria.

1. Safety

  • In JB, the crime rate is rather high. Many of my friends and family have been the targets of snatch thefts and robberies. Last year, on the night before my wedding in Malaysia, I had a small family gathering at home. There were about 20 of us, mainly adults with 2 kids. My elder sister was robbed right at the front porch of the house, just 2 steps away from the house entrance. In separate incidents, my bro-in-law was robbed at knife point while on his way to work in broad daylight, my dad was chased by 2 motorcycles with masked robbers after withdrawing money from an ATM, and my mum’s bag was almost snatched when she went to the market in the morning. It doesn’t matter when or where. You just have to be extra cautious especially when you are alone. You can be the target of crime no matter if you are a woman or a man.
  • I’m not saying it’s crime-free in Bulgaria. I’m sure crime happens everywhere in the world. However in Varna, I feel relatively safe. I can walk on the street without having the constant fear that someone might come on a motorcycle to snatch my bag. I still practice caution whenever I go out. But I definitely feel much safer here than I was in Malaysia.

2. Everything is fresh and organic here!

  • In JB, organic fruits and vegetables cost a lot of money! I wouldn’t say Mr. Hubby is picky with his food, but he is very particular with the quality of his food. I think organic fruits and vegetables generally taste better than the “non-organic” ones. I usually spent about RM100 (approximately 50leva), buying just vegetables and fruits. Seriously, I can go bankrupt by just eating fruits and veggies back home.
  • In Varna, everything is fresh and organic. It’s cheap too! Well, during winter is another story. After buying the fruits and veggies from the market, you can simply rinse it with water and eat it. Unlike in JB, I had to wash and soak and use special drops to remove the “toxic” on the fruits and veggies. It can be a very tedious process. 😦

3. The tap water is drinkable

  • In JB, the tap water is not drinkable. You can choose to drink it and end up having diarrhea later. Most households invest in water filters. Only with water filters, the water from the tap is safe to drink. However, I know some people are still boiling the water even when it is filtered, just to make sure it is 100% drinkable.
  • In Varna, the tap water is drinkable. When I first came here, I thought it was a joke when Mr. Hubby told me that I could drink from the tap. I was like, seriously!?! I still prefer not to drink from the tap although everyone else at home does that. I sometimes buy bottled water from the grocery store. But if my bottle is empty, I don’t mind to just crawl to the kitchen, turn on the tap, and drink the water from there. 😀

4. Minimal air and noise pollution

  • In JB, air pollution is a serious problem. Every year, when one of our neighbouring countries decides to burn its forest, the whole Malaysia would suffer horrible air pollution. Even without that, the exhaust fumes from the vehicles are enough to suffocate you. And, I have black boogers all the time!!! As for noise pollution, with on-going construction works everywhere, it’s difficult not to have any noise. That’s understandable. But the worst “noise pollution” is when your neighbours fight. They scream and shout and throw things at each other in the middle of the night, especially near your front door. That’s the worst kind. (Note: I lived in an apartment in JB.)
  • In Varna, the air pollution is minimal. Vehicles here rarely “fart” black fumes. Smokers are everywhere but there are designated smoking areas. As long as you don’t go near those areas, I guarantee your hair will still smell nice after 2 days and you will not have black boogers!! As for noise pollution, there are almost no constructions nearby the place I’m staying. My neighbours are friendly and civilised, as least I haven’t seen them shouting or throwing things at each others. I would say the “biggest noise polluters” are the kids playing in the playground in front of our apartment! 😀 But, how can I blame the kids? They’re just too cute! 😀

5. No ants loitering around

  • In JB, if you don’t keep your snacks properly, ants attack in 5 minutes. If you don’t pack and throw your garbage daily, ants form an army around your garbage bin. If you don’t wipe your spilled drink in 2 minutes,  ants swim in it. There are always ants attack, any time of the day. If they don’t attack the food, they attack you!
  • In Varna, I hardly see any ants. I can leave my food unpacked for hours, no ants will attack. I can leave my glass with fruit juice stains until the next morning, ants don’t bother to pay a visit. If I see any ants here, I most probably will attack them by throwing food at them!

Of course there are many other things I like about living here. But I’m just gonna share these 5 points today. So, what do I think about Bulgaria? I think it’s generally a nice country. What do I think about my stay in Bulgaria? So far, I’ve been treated like a princess here. So, I would say that my stay has been great! Hahahahaha…

So which place do I prefer? JB or Varna? NONE of them. Every place has its nice and not-so-nice features. There are things I prefer in JB and there are also things I prefer in Varna. There’s no perfect place in this world but you can always adapt and embrace the local cultures to make your stay perfect in different places. Do you agree? Share your thoughts with me! 🙂

 

Things I miss doing the most back in Malaysia

In Bulgaria, I have been asked these questions rather frequently.

1. “What do you miss the most about/in Malaysia?”
2. “What do you like about Bulgaria?”
3. “What do you think about Bulgaria?”
4. “What are the differences between Bulgaria and Malaysia?”

In this post, I’ll answer the first question. Instead of sharing what specific things (i.e food, weather etc) I miss the most about/in Malaysia, I’ll share with you what are the things I miss doing the most back in Malaysia.

I generally adapt to different environment pretty fast. After all, I am the one who decides where I want to go and where I want to stay. I wouldn’t call it homesick, but I do miss doing certain things back home in Malaysia. Honestly, I survive well even without doing these things here but that doesn’t prevent me from missing them. In fact, I can do these things here too. However, my stay in Bulgaria is not permanent so it’s really unnecessary and it’ll be a hassle to “achieve” them.

Note: I am making a comparison based on the cities where I lived and am currently living: Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia and Varna, Bulgaria. This doesn’t apply to all Malaysia or all Bulgaria.

1. Wearing whatever I want

  • In JB, I wear what I want based on my mood. Except when I’m going to work or when I’m attending to some official matters, I usually stick with my 3S – Shirt, shorts and slippers.
  • In Varna, I still wear what I want but it depends heavily on the weather. Now it’s summer, so I still get to choose. During the day, it can be really hot (like 35°C) that I feel my skin burns when I step out of home. I can wear my favourite 3S but I’ll get burned like crazy. Alternatively I can wear longer pants/skirts/dress and/or long-sleeved shirts but I’ll most probably get sweaty fast. Tough choice huh? In the evening, it can get quite chilly (like 20°C or below) despite it’s summer.  Even if I just want to get a short walk in the park after dinner, I cannot wear my 3S because I’ll probably get sick after that.
  • Solution? There’s nothing I can do about it because I cannot change the weather. I’ll just have to choose from what I can wear instead of what I want to wear, that’s it! Well, it is a good excuse to buy more clothes, eh? 😀 But then again, my drawers are already full. 😦

2. Eating hot and spicy food

  • I wouldn’t call it my favourite kind of food, but I like the hot and spicy sensation that really tickles my taste bud. In JB, I can have the typical Malaysian food like asam laksa, curry mee or nasi lemak with a lot of sambal. Alternatively, I can opt for kimchi (Korean food), tom yam (Thai food) or sushi with a lot of wasabi (Japanese food).
  • In Varna, most restaurants serve the typical Bulgarian cuisine. I believe there are many different cuisines served out there but I’m just going to share about “hot and spicy” Asian cuisines. There are Chinese and Thai restaurants, but only very few of them. The menu usually states very typical/authentic Chinese or Thai cuisine but the taste is very much Bulgarianized. I mean, who eats beansprouts with olives and pickles? At least, I don’t.
  • Solution? I can live without spicy food. The Bulgarian cuisine is really nice. And seriously, my mum-in-law cooks like the best dishes in the world. What more can I ask for? I’ll eat the olives and pickles, minus the beansprouts. 😀

3. Driving

  • In JB, I drive almost everywhere. Public transports are accessible between main roads and old neighbourhoods but not between the new neighbourhoods. The distance between the nearest shops and home is relatively near (about 5 minutes drive), but not near to the extent that I would want to walk.
  • In Varna, I walk almost everywhere. Shops and malls are relatively near, also approximately 5 minutes drive. But unless people are going downtown or are carrying lots of things, they usually prefer to walk. So yes, I walk about 15-30 minutes (depending on my walking speed and weather) to the nearest shopping mall.
  • Solution? You would agree with me that buying a car just to satisfy my desire to drive is totally not worth it. I’m sure my father-in-law would allow me to drive his car, but I don’t want to drive a manual car.
  • A side note: People here don’t believe I have more than 10 years of driving experience. They think I’m 22 years old. So I must have started driving when I was 11. 😛

4. Drinking bubble tea

  • In JB, I drink a lot of bubble tea. I really enjoy chewing those pearls (black, chewy tapioca balls). It just makes me feel happy! It doesn’t have to be tea, I can have chocolate milkshake with pearls too. Whatever beverage I want, with pearls.
  • In Varna, there’s no bubble tea shop (at least I haven’t seen one). Because I’m writing this post, I actually found out that there’s a shop selling bubble tea in Sofia (which is about 6-7 hours drive from Varna).
  • Solution? I can “import” those pearls but I think they come in big packs. I definitely can’t eat them all by myself, nobody’s gonna help me because it’s not “their kind of thing” here, and storing them will be a problem. Alternatively, I can travel all the way to Sofia to get it. 6-7 hours drive just to get my bubble tea? Nah, I don’t think so.

5. Going for facial and massage

  • In JB, I enjoy going for facial, at least once a month. I have this beauty therapist whom I trust a lot when it comes to doing facial for me because I have sensitive skin. I also enjoy going for foot and body massage whenever I want.
  • In Varna, there are facial salons. But I’m not sure I can trust that person enough to touch my face. I have tried searching for massage and reflexology centers but all I found was “erotic massage”. Hmmm…I don’t think I need an erotic massage.
  • Solution? I’ll try to survive without doing facial and massage, at least for now. I hope I can find suitable ones when I’m in Canada.

6. Doing offline and online shopping

  • Honestly, I don’t have many choices in JB either. Kuala Lumpur is definitely a better place when it comes to shopping. But in JB, I did a lot of online shopping. There were times I got like really bad quality products but for the price that I was paying, I would say it was acceptable. Sometimes I got really good deals online.
  • In Varna, the choices are very limited. The largest shopping mall in Varna is smaller than an average shopping mall in JB. The prices here are more expensive for the quality of clothes that they are selling. I cannot do online shopping because most sites are in Bulgarian.
  • Solution? I’ll stick with international franchise brands like Zara, H&M, Bershka etc or I’ll shop online from shopping sites that ship internationally.

7. Going to work

  • In JB, I had 2 jobs. I was teaching in a college on a full time basis. I was also managing Mr. Hubby’s company (NGS Internet Marketing) – doing recruitment, accounting and dealing with the official matters. Haha, you’ll never believe how much I miss working! For me, it’s not just about doing my job but it’s also about developing myself professionally and socialising with others.
  • In Varna, I don’t work. I eat, sleep, clean the room (not the house), travel (sometimes) and write blog posts! I call it the “long and deserved holiday”.
  • Solution? Finding a job here is definitely a hassle because 1. I don’t speak Bulgarian, and 2. I am not staying here for long time. I’ll appoint myself as a blogger at the moment.

So, if you have been wondering what I miss the most, I hope I’ve answered your questions here. What do you think? Have you been abroad and missed doing/having something badly back home?

Bulgarian words that don’t mean as you see or hear them

Ever since I’m in Bulgaria, all my friends in Malaysia keep telling me to learn the Bulgarian language. I can assure you that learning a new language is not an easy task and it really depends on a lot of factors.

Nonetheless, I love the Bulgarian language. Bulgarian language uses the Cyrillic alphabets. Sometimes I wish I have already learnt them by heart. But, because I don’t understand them, it makes them twice as mysterious. Every word or sign that I’m seeing makes me feel like I’m deciphering some cryptic messages. And seriously, if everyone has a deep voice like Mr. Hubby, the Bulgarian speech can be so sexy. I can listen to Mr. Hubby blabbering in Bulgarian all day.

A few of the Cyrillic alphabets resemble the Latin alphabets but these alphabets are pronounced very differently. However, I must say that my brain sometimes cannot work properly to distinguish them.

These are some words I see them frequently. Eventhough I already know what they mean, I sometimes still have the urge to pronounce the words as how I see them and then define them based on my “personal pronunciation” (or perhaps “opinion”).

  1. Нягослав
    How I see it: Herocrab
    What I think it is: Hero + Crab?
    How is it pronounced: Nyagoslav
    What it actually is: This is Mr. Hubby’s first name!
  2. Аптека
    How I see it: Anteka
    What I think it is: Antique?
    How is it pronounced: Apteka
    What it actually is: Pharmacy
  3. Вход
    How I see it: Boxr?
    What I think it is: Boxer? Box? Boxing?
    How is it pronounced: Vkhod (Yes, V-kh-od). Seriously, how do you pronounce this?!?
    What it actually is: Entrance
  4. Гараж
    How I see it: Tapak? (A Malay word which means site or footprint. Please google it for more information.)
    What I think it is: I don’t know what to think of it.
    How is it pronounced: Garazh
    What it actually is: Garage
  5. Може
    How I see it: Move? Moxe?
    What I think it is: Move
    How is it pronounced: Mozhe
    What it actually is: May / Might
  6. Джени
    How I see it: Dxehn?
    What I think is it: I have no idea what is this.
    How is it pronounced: Dzheni
    What it actually is: Jenny (Yes, it is my name!)
    (I guess it was kinda sad to see Джени written everywhere on documents, not knowing that it’s actually my name. But of course, I know it now.) 😀

When Mr. Hubby’s family talk, I sometimes mimic their speech. Well, that’s how I learn what is what. Here are some words which we often use it at home. Although I already know what they mean, I’m still guilty of defining them in their “alternate meanings”…sometimes…

  1. Сок (Seriously, don’t be hamsap (perverted), it is not what you think it is.)
    How is it pronounced: Sok
    What I think it is: Sock?
    What it actually is: Juice. (Yeah, as in fruit juice). Can you imagine how weird if you have like sok? As in sock juice?!? Hmmmm…
  2. Мед
    How is it pronounced: Med
    What I think it is: Med as in medicine?
    What it actually is: Honey. (Yes, honey from the honey bees.)  Can you imagine when my father-in-law (a doctor) is like offering med to me and I was like “No, no, I don’t need med. I’m not sick.” Actually he is just offering me honey for my pancakes. I should dig a hole and hide. Hmmm…
  3. Хора
    How is it pronounced: Hora
    What I think it is: Horror? As in horror movie? :O
    What it actually is: People. (Yes, people as in human beings.) Well, sometimes people can be a horror too. Anyway…
  4. Жъне
    How is it pronounced: Zhune (pronounce “u” as in “cut”) like Zherne
    What I think it is: Jenny? Are they calling me? Well, it does sound a little like my name isn’t it?
    What it actually is: To harvest (a 3rd person singular)
  5. Няма (This is the most fun word, ever. But please, I forbid you to use it in Malaysia.)
    How is it pronounced: Nyama (Okay, ni-a-ma, which sounds like a vulgar word people use in Malaysia?)
    What I think it is: I think I shouldn’t write it down here.
    What it actually is: There isn’t. Yes, it means there isn’t. If you wanna say there isn’t any problem, you say in Bulgarian nyama problem. Again, please don’t use it in Malaysia because if you use it, you are going to have a lot of problems.

I love languages. They are just so fascinating. What do you think of Bulgarian language? Do you think it’s easy or difficult? Share your thoughts with me.

Sometimes it is better to say “yes” or “no” than to nod or shake your head

I must say that this is one of the weirdest things I’ve encountered in my whole life. Back in Malaysia, when someone asks me a question, I usually include some gestures in addition to my reply. I don’t know why I do that. I guess I just want to be a little more expressive in my reply.

Q: Do you want an ice-cream?
Me: Yes, please! (Nodding vigorously)

Q: Do you wanna go out after work?
Me: (Shaking head slowly). No, I feel a little tired today.

Q: Can I have this document by tomorrow?
Me: (Nod once). Of course, I’ll pass it to you tomorrow morning.

Is there anything wrong with my gestures? Absolutely no!

BUT… if you ever want to visit Bulgaria in future, I highly recommend that you strictly stick to saying just “yes” or “no” instead of nodding or shaking your head. Why is this so? It is because nodding and shaking your head mean exactly the opposite! Huh? Yes, you are right. Back in Malaysia, nodding usually means yes while shaking your head means no. However in Bulgaria, nodding means no and shaking your head means yes.

I am not joking!!

I remember very clearly on my first visit to Bulgaria, my mum-in-law (back then, she was “boyfriend’s mum”) prepared a feast for my arrival. I was very happy that someone whom I met for the very first time actually put in so much effort and prepared so much food to celebrate my arrival. Everyone was very nice to me eventhough I didn’t speak the same language. Mr. Hubby (then, “Mr. Boyfriend”) acted as the translator between me and his family members. The food wasn’t just delicious but they were also nicely decorated too.

Here comes the scandalous part. Everybody was happily eating and chatting. Eventhough we didn’t understand each other, we were all smiles. As we were eating, my mum-in-law popped the questions, “Is the food okay for you? Do you like it?” Mr. Hubby translated. Well, I didn’t speak Bulgarian but I was thinking that even if I reply “yes” (in English), they should be able to understand me. So, I replied like I usually do, in addition with the head gesture.

Mum-in-law: Is the food okay for you? Do you like it?
Me: (Nodding vigorously), YES! YES!

Do you get the picture of what just went wrong? Yes, I just nodded vigorously. Nodding in Bulgaria means NO. So I supposed nodding vigorously means NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!! When I was nodding, I actually didn’t look at them face to face. I was too shy, after all it was my first time meeting my boyfriend’s parents and I just wanted to be as proper as possible (ahem!). Then I realised something was wrong. How come everyone became quiet after I replied? So I looked up and I saw that everyone stared at me in shock.

Well, Mr. Hubby then explained to me that nodding means no and shaking head means yes. Seriously, at that time I just wanted to dig a hole somewhere and hide inside forever. Looks like my plan to be proper failed miserably. So, I was in shocked and I explained that what I really meant was “Yes, I love it” and NOT “No, I don’t like it”. Mr. Hubby translated. We had a good laugh. It was so nice that they were so understanding and didn’t blame me for that.

Honestly, until today I still can’t get used to the Bulgarian styles of nodding and shaking heads. I mean, for 20+ years, I’ve been nodding for agreement and shaking my head for disagreement. It’s very difficult for me to change it, no matter how I force myself to. Now, I avoid using any head gestures. I stick to just saying “Yes” or “No”.

Have you ever encountered any situation like this? Share your stories with me!

10 hours wait in Amsterdam!

I am currently now in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport waiting for my next flight to Singapore at 9pm (Netherlands time) which is approximately 5.5 hours from now. Don’t ask me how I survived the last 4.5 hours but I hope the next 5.5 hours will pass soon!

Frankly, I don’t hate travelling alone. But, travelling alone proves to be a serious hassle especially when you need to go to the “water closet” (a.k.a toilet) – which is what I am feeling right now! I actually set a time when I start to pack because I just don’t want to get everything packed and unpacked again (within a short time). I am NOT being lazy but it’s that kind of  “you have somehow settled down somewhere and you can’t just leave your things and go” feeling. Yeah, that’s how exactly I am feeling right now… As you might have already thought of, yes, most airports do provide trolleys, but not all areas are trolley friendly. Some toilet entrance can be so small that even your hand carry luggage can stuck in between. Or, you may come across some small toilet room which you will have to leave your stuff outside, and while you are doing business, your mind is somewhere else wondering what’s happening to your stuff. AND, you get excited and your business gets “neverending”!! Hahaha…. okay, okay, I’m not trying to scare you about travelling alone. BUT, that’s what I’ve experienced.

In this airport, I seriously have nothing to complain except for the extremely expensive internet access (€3 for 15 mins, €6 for 30 mins, €12 for 90 mins & €16 for a day pass). Very similar to the £9.90 for 24 hours internet service I had in London. They sure do know how to make money. BUT, I would say that they are actually quite kind, because the first hour is free (you get 30 minutes x 2 login). That’s pretty cool compared to other airports which don’t offer any alternatives at all. But I guess, this free Internet access doesn’t really benefit me in anyway since I am somehow stuck here for 10 hours, so buying the 15 or 30 or 90 mins access doesn’t seem like a wise choice! Now I am wondering if I can sell off the remaining hours of mine? Hahaha 😀 Not to mention that they DO provide good facilities for their customers. I mean, not many airports actually have plug holes for you to charge your pc or phone and here, they actually provide you plug holes in different forms. And also, you can choose to use their computer OR you can use your own laptop with large table provided (you don’t wan to see my “area” right now because it’s even bigger than my desk at the office or my home! and it’s also quite messy!!!) OR you can sit at the sofa area also with the plug holes provided. Not bad huh!

So yeah, as I was telling honey bee, journey from Varna (BG) to Bucharest (RO) is undoutedly a serious hassle, BUT I would definitely recommend coming to Bulgaria passing this route (at this particular airport, using KLM & Tarom Airlines). Seriously, don’t bother using those low cost airlines which actually cost you more that what you should pay. (Based on my previous experience to London, after recalculation, I paid around RM1500 more)

Note:
My previous flight from JB-KL-London-Plovdiv (BG) – the last route I had to book by myself, no transfer services (Total amount around RM4500) – Low cost budget airlines + 18 hours wait at a shitty airport with no plug holes
My current flight from SG-Amsterdam-Bucharest (then to BG with car) – check in luggage all the way from SG to RO. (Total amount around RM3000) “Normal” (Not budget) nice flight with personal media (no charge) + unlimited food (you can order whatever you wan without paying extra) + nice airport with area you can hangout
Whenever I think about my RM1500, my heart aches. RM1500 may not be a lot a lot a lot for some of you, but I can buy many things with RM1500. OMG!

Oh…….it’s 4.05pm already. I really can crap and pass 35 minutes just like that. Well, I shall write more about my experience later. Now, I’ll go do some business and then explore this beautiful airport.

IMPORTANT!! Sorry if there’s any typo or spelling error, please understand that I was merely passing time and I was kind of in an “emergency mode”

See you soon in my next post! 🙂

Journey back home starts now

As I am writing this, I am in fact in Henri Coanda Airport in Bucharest, Romania, waiting for my flight to Amsterdam. Then at Amsterdam, I’ll have my flight back to Singapore.

Yesterday marked my last day of my 90 days stay in Bulgaria. It felt like I just went there yesterday and with a blink of eye, I am already on the way back to Malaysia. How time flies!

My 3 months stay in Bulgaria was a pleasant and memorable one. I am glad that I was able to spend many special occasions with my honey bee dearest – his birthday, Christmas, New Year, Valentines’ Day and of course our special trip to Paris.

Although winter season was not a good time for travel, honey bee and I prove that nothing could break our spirits of doing things and spending time together.

The journey here and back home takes a lot of time. But it DEFINITELY worth my time. I’ll do it all over again and again and again and travel the farthest distance just to see my honey bee 🙂

I have to go through check in now. Keep you updated in my next post in my next stop at Amsterdam.

And, I just want to shout out LOUD:

I LOVE YOU HONEY BEE!

Resolution #19 Achieved!

I was supposed to write this entry weeks ago but I was being lazy and was constantly putting it off to “tomorrow”. Well, the “tomorrow” finally came today.

Out of my “so many” things to be done this year, I have (yay!!) achieved one! And, I am very happy that I achieved it together with my dearest honey bee 🙂 Others are still in progress, and not all of them are productive but they are in the midst of being completed, and I’m working “determinedly” (if there’s such a word 😛 ) hard to make them happen!

Resolution No.19: Visit a spectacular place.

I achieved it by visiting the City of Love – Paris, with my L.O.V.E. We spent 5 beautiful days (21 – 26 Jan 2012) there and it was indeed a very pleasant experience to both of us. There were some little mishaps during the whole journey, mostly due to the journey travelling back home, but overall the trip in Paris itself was extremely memorable. Some little mishaps included:

  1. me forgetting my iPhone charger  (I didn’t get to use my French translator app) and thus leading us to,
  2. not speaking French “so well”  (Things were a little hard because the French does understand English but most of them just don’t speak it. Talking about being identity enthusiast eh? We don’t really mind or care, we survived pretty well 🙂 )
  3. and, also the traumatic snow experience on the journey back home in Romania. (But of course, we managed to just laugh it off after weeks of hibernation and hot tea at home 😛 )

I’m just gonna keep this entry short and sweet. If you are interested in details, the “long” elaborated story of how our journey went can be found in this link. And, of course the pictures can be found in my facebook photo albums: From Paris with Love, In the City of Love and We (heart) Paris. Hope you enjoy our Parisian experience 🙂

Most important of all, I wanna say thanks to Honey bee for realising my dream of visiting the City of Love! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! Thank you for everything! :*